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An Apple In The Rough

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Diamond Tiara awoke blearily. Her head felt heavy and she had trouble even opening her eyes. "Whu-" The smell of smoke overwhelmed her senses, but her brain was too heavily fogged to urge her into a panic.

The door to her room burst into a thousand pieces, and through an immense effort, she turned her head in its direction, where she faintly recognized a pony shape entering the room. "Du-... ddy?"

"Ah found 'er! She's breathin'!"

'Applebloom?' Hazy as her mind was, Tiara nevertheless realized her error. 'No, sounds... older.' A pair of strong hooves lifted her up and she was slung over somepony's back. Then she felt movement. And an almost unbearable warmth.

Drowsy as she was, Diamond Tiara started to lose her grip on consciousness and began to fade in and out.

"Ma-... -er father?"

"-his offi-..."

"-doin' thar?"

"-ave... papers..."

"Well, tell 'im t-..."

"-eady did. 'e said he wo-..."

'Typical.' Diamond's mind sneered. 'Our house is on fire and all he thinks about is his money.' Deep down she realized that she was very probably going to lose her father. But instead of despair, all she could feel at that moment was indifference.

Where would be the difference to now?

What felt like lifetimes ago, Diamond Tiara had been looking up to her father.

He had never looked back.

Her pre-school play?

"Tomfoolery," he had said, and then refused to go.

Her friends?

"Hindrances," he had answered, before leaving for a big gala dinner.

Her mother's death?

"Fortune," he had called it.

Her grades?

Regardless how good or bad they were, he had never shown any interest.

...After all, she was just a filly.

A filly was useless. You could not pay your entertainment with a filly. You could not augment a filly by simply investing her into the stock market. Worst of all, a filly cost money, the one thing that mattered! No, a filly was worse than useless: a filly was wastage!

Biting back tears of bitterness despite her muddled state of mind, the last thought going through Diamond Tiara's head before she passed out was, 'Good riddance.'

"Oooww..." Tiara awoke with the worst headache ever.

"Hey there, sleepyhead." Turning her head to the side, she recognized Silver Spoon sitting in a chair beside her bed.

A hospital bed, she realized.

"Whu-..." Diamond's throat felt as if it was dry as the desert and on fire. "Wha' 'appen'?" she wheezed out.

Holding out a cup with a straw, Silver answered: "Your place burned down." Her relieved smile morphed into a mask of unease as she continued. "Sorry, but your father is..." The grey filly trailed off, unsure how to break the news.

"'s okay." Tiara sucked a few times on the straw and then let her head fall back onto her pillow. Drinking too much made her drowsy.

"Diamond!" shrieked Silver Spoon, her face twisted in horror at the implications.

"No, really." The pink filly felt much better, now that her throat was wet. "Silver; what has my father ever done for me?"

"Uh..." Her interlocutor stalled. "He... was your father," she said lamely.

Tiara gave a derisive snort – and then wished she hadn't. "No, he wasn't," she croaked.

Feeling tears of bitterness welling up again but just not caring, she continued: "Do you want to know what he did when our place burned down?" She knew she was breaking down, but she just couldn't care to stop herself.

"He tried to save his money! I was there, in the house, quite probably suffering from smoke intoxication, and he rushed in to save his frakking money!"

Realizing that such a breakdown wouldn't do, Diamond Tiara took a shuddering breath and wiped her eyes with a hoof. "But thank you for the sympathy, Silver."

Any further conversation was interrupted by an official-looking pony Diamond had never seen entering the room. "Excuse me, Miss Tiara, but could I speak with you?" She eyed the grey filly beside the bed. "Alone?"

"She is my friend. I have no secrets from her." Tiara sat up and tipped her head as courteously as she could in her current state. "Who are you, if you'll excuse my asking?"

"Stepford Smiles's the name." The mare gave a disturbing smile and then continued: "Miss Tiara, I have to inform you that your father is dead."

"Yes, I already heard." Diamond shortly entertained the idea of simply dismissing that odd pony, but then thought better of it. "So I guess that means I'm going to an orphanage?" she asked with a sombre face.

"Don't be silly," said the suit with another of her shudder inducing smiles, "We don't have an orphanage in Ponyville." She sobered and went on: "What we do have is volunteer foster families. And I was going to inform you who that would be."

As Ms. Stepford fell silent instead of continuing, Tiara raised an eyebrow and prompted, "And?"

"Oh! Yes!" Giving an embarrassed grin, the older mare went on: "The Apple Family of Sweet Apple Acres will be taking you in, Miss Tiara."

Two jaws dropped to the floor.

"If you'll excuse me, Miss Tiara," the official started, "I am afraid that I have another appointment today that requires my attention." With those words the strange mare left the room in a hurried looking walk.

"Hehe," Silver Spoon snickered a minute or so later. "Too bad for you."

"This is not funny!" Diamond Tiara scowled at her, then softened as a thought occurred to her: 'Applebloom's sister saved my life.'

The pink filly's eyes began to water.

'Although I haven't been nice to her for a single day of my life.'

In a choked whisper she repeated, "This isn't funny," before breaking down in great, heaving sobs.

Not knowing what else to do, Silver Spoon leaned forward and encircled her distraught friend in her forehooves, trying to comfort her.